We don’t care what we did last summer

i know what you did last summer 2021

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

2.5 Stars  2021/380m

Directors: Johanna Stokes, Lana Cho, Phoebe Fisher, Sara Goodman, Shay Hatten, Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Gary Tieche / Writers: Logan Kibens, Craig William MacNeill, Benjamin Semanoff, Lois Duncan (novel) / Cast: Madison Iseman, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Bill Heck, Ashley Moore, Fiona Rene, Sebastian Amoruso, Cassie Beck, Brooke Bloom, Eric William Morris.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “What’s with all the screams, Neve Campbell?”


A proposed second adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer helmed by Mike Flanagan (of HushOculus, and The Haunting of Hill House notoriety) were floating around for a few years, a script was ready to go, reportedly going at Lois Duncan’s novel from a more traditional perspective. Whatever happened to that, it never seemed to advance and the idea of a teen TV series floated to the top, produced again by Neil H. Moritz.

As with all of these things, Pretty Little Liars always seems to get namechecked as a source of inspiration. I never watched past the first episode of that show so have little context, but those I know who did stick with it groaned that it outstayed its welcome by repeatedly tacking on extra layers to the mystery. Scream – The TV Series was just about okay (and also featured Brianne Tju), but the idea behind I Know… seems more suited to a multi-episode arc than most other slasher ventures.

i know what you did last summer 2021 madison iseman

Come Autumn 2021, Amazon Prime released an episode a week to a rather dismal reaction from most corners. Two-and-a-half from me? You don’t get more average than that. Let’s dive in… Spoilers in the road ahead – careful you don’t run them down.

Episode 1 introduces us to Hawaii and our core teen cast, who are celebrating graduating high school at a lavish party thrown by rich girl Margot’s mother. In attendance is her gay best friend Johnny, intense intellectual type Dylan, drug dealin’ Riley, good time girl Lennon and, lurking, Lennon’s shy identical twin sister Alison. It’s quickly established that the sisters are Yin & Yang, with Lennon popular, liberal with drugs and sexual fluidity. When she screws Alison’s long term crush Dylan, they argue and she storms out. Wait… who storms out?

i know what you did last summer madison iseman 2021 twins

Clambering into a jeep wasted, the five teens rocket down the freeway and run over Alison, who’s inexplicably in the middle of the road at night. Panicking as Julie, Ray, Helen, and Barry once did, they elect to place the body in a cave that floods to wash it out into the Pacific and tell everybody Alison ran away. The cave was also the scene of a mass cult suicide some years earlier that may or may not have been what killed the twins’ mom. Their grumpy dad, Bruce, isn’t particularly forthcoming, but you know we’ll find out eventually…

i know what you did last summer 2021

One year later, Lennon returns from her first year of college and finds a severed goats head in her closet and ‘I know what you did last summer’ scrawled on the mirror. DUH DUH DUUUUHHHH. And at the end of episode 1, the entirely unsurprising revelation that this is in fact Alison is tossed to us like crumbs. Some blah over a piece of jewellery, taking her sister’s jacket and her nasty words to heart, Alison decided to pretend to try on fun loving, popular Lennon for size.

While Alison continues to pretend she’s Lennon, we learn that her father is in on the secret, something around it being more believable troubled Alison would disappear. She reconnects with her friends and shares the threat. Suspects are quickly slotted in: Riley’s attitude-tastic mom, Courtney, local weirdo Clara, who saw the teens that night, the Sheriff who is screwing Bruce, and dorky deputy Doug, whose investigative skills might jeopardise the killer’s scheme. Dylan, too, has gone understandably weird.

i know what you did last summer 2021 death by slushie

The group begin to receive texts ‘from Alison’ and eventually at the end of the second episode, the killing begins. There’s no fisherman, no cool mask, and in visual scope terms, no killer – they’re completely off-camera, which will clue in seasoned viewers to narrowing their suspect field down a bit.

A few days later, Lennon’s body appears in the ocean in front of the family guesthouse. Considering she’s been dead a year, the corpse is remarkably well preserved, leading Bruce to confront weird Clara, who admits she kept it with her all this time and was treating it for transition into the next life (this part-explains the honey on the poster).

i know what you did last summer 2021 hot cop

More murders occur, including a grisly double at the memorial service for ‘Alison’, death-by-slushie machine, one poor sod killed on the toilet… All the while, the remaining members of the group can’t get their shit together to investigate cohesively. Questionably, they continue to laugh about stuff, do drugs, hook up, play pranks while snooping around a suspect’s house. Your friend is dead. People wish you dead. What are you doing?

Crucially, the major black mark against this iteration of the story is that the characters are assholes. Every last one of them. Had there been a decent, believable reason for Alison to become Lennon, it might wash, but she literally just alters her attitude to become bitchy and mean, leading on various suitors and seemingly unfazed by the growing body count. Whereas the 1997 film focused on the damage done to the characters’ lives by their secret, these kids seem to give no fucks whatsoever, extracting any sense of morality or accountability.

i know what you did last summer 2021

 

Some bloody crime scenes are interesting, but the murder set pieces are minimally allotted any time or tension – no chase scenes are possible given the lengths the camera goes to to keep the killer out of the frame, leaving this a stalk n’ slasher without much stalk and a base level of minimal slash.

i know what you did last summer 2021 courtney

Ultimately, the killer’s identity isn’t totally predictable, thanks to some misdirection earlier, but the motive is fuzzy and shallow to the point there’s a tacked on piece to camera by the character at the end revealing how they did it. Stranger still is the coda shared by the surviving characters, a sort of cynical “happily ever after” that flies directly in the face of the motive Alison was on the receiving end of one scene prior!?

Mob Rule

halloween kills 2021

HALLOWEEN KILLS

2.5 Stars  2021/18/105m

Director/Writer: David Gordon Green / Writers: Scott Teems, Danny McBride / Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall, Dylan Arnold, James Jude Courtney, Robert Longstreet, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Thomas Mann, Carmela McNeal, Michael Smallwood, Nick Castle.

Body Count: at least 30


Halloween has turned into its very own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series now, with three paths to pick at the end of the original: You can go the 1-2-4-5-6 route, the 1-2-H20-Resurrection way, or 1-2018-Kills-Ends. Interestingly, both latter avenues were accompanied with a sort of “oh, we just ignored all those awful sequels!” narrative, and with the release of Halloween Kills, both latter avenues have delivered instalments that are decidedly inferior to those 80s-90s efforts. Spoilers will need to ensue.

Allyson’s cheerleader kissin’ boyfriend Cameron stumbles upon the not-quite-dead Deputy Hawkins and we’re whisked back to 1978, with Hawkins the younger and his colleagues hunting The Shape after Dr Loomis shot him out of the Doyles window. Tommy’s bully, Lonnie Elams, has a creepy encounter, and the cops track him back to the Myers house, perfectly captured as we last saw it, and Loomis himself is even resurrected for the occasion.halloween kills 2021

In 2018, Laurie is rushed on to the operating table, while Karen becomes a bit of a Karen with the hospital staff, and the cops get a debrief from Allyson. Meanwhile, firefighters enter the Strode house and guess who is not burnt to a cinder? Michael wastes no time in taking out half a dozen burly firemen before tottering back towards town.

Elsewhere, middle-aged Tommy Doyle tells the tale of the babysitter murders at a bar, where he’s drinking with Lindsey Wallace, Lonnie, and Nurse Marion (why is she there??). When the news reports murders, they team up with a couple seen briefly in the previous film to lead a vigilante mob to take out Michael.

halloween kills 2021 kyle richards anthony michael hall

Things go wrong, people die, and Tommy ends up at Haddonfield Memorial where he stirs anxious relatives of the injured and missing to a mob frenzy, including the former Sheriff Brackett, now working security there (despite being like 80) and the crowd start chanting: “Evil dies tonight!” over and over. It’s a weird scene, at odds with anything you’d expect from a Halloween movie.

Laurie is informed Michael is not dead and tries to leave, but the baying crowd begin hunting one of the other escaped patients from the bus crash. Nobody will listen to reason, so Karen decides to help the man and locks him in a corridor on an upper floor. The mob attack and he eventually throws himself out of a window to his death.

halloween kills 2021 nancy stephens kyle richards

Things culminate at the Myers house, now inhabited and renovated by a gay couple. There’s a good scene in which Karen manages to steal Michael’s mask and is chased through some yards until the residents of Haddonfield have him surrounded and exact their revenge. But because we know Halloween Ends is slated for 2022, things don’t work out quite as planned.

So, Laurie shares no scenes with The Shape whatsoever and a whole lot of time is spent with Tommy Doyle’s lynch mob, shoehorning in actors and characters from the original who are inexplicably still living in Haddonfield forty years later, and hang out together in bars. It’s contrived as fuck fan service, but this is a slasher film so why should it even matter? Halloween Kills is a damn mess, but it may improve as the bridging instalment once the third and final chapter comes along, though if the history of this series has taught us anything, it’s that someone will find a way to bring it back again one way or another.

halloween kills 2021 dylan arnold

The Truth Hurts

there's someone inside your house 2021

THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

3 Stars  2021/96m

“Everyone has a secret to die for.”

Director: Patrick Brice / Writers: Stephanie Perkins (novel), Henry Gayden / Cast: Sydney Park, Theodore Pellerin, Asjha Cooper, Jesse LaTourette, Dale Whibley, Burkely Duffield, Diego Josef, BJ Harrison, Sarah Dugdale, William MacDonald.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “But now, a moment of silent, unforced, non-denominational prayer.”


Stephanie Perkins’ 2017 YA novel is adapted to film for Netflix as slasher movies become slightly relevant again on the eve of Halloween Kills‘ theatrical release and the incoming fifth Scream movie. It went through a lot of changes from book to film, so some spoilers follow.

Cookie cutter midwestern small town football star Jackson returns to his farmhouse home where nobody is home, finds a ticking egg-timer in the kitchen, ignores it and goes to bed for some rest ahead of a big game. He’s woken by the egg-timer going off next to his head a few hours later and discovers he’s not alone, his truck is gone, and there are photos all over the house showing him beating the crap out of some kid. He’s eventually coerced into a walk-in closet where a hooded killer wearing a mask of Jackson’s face swiftly dispatches him. Shortly before his memorial service, prissy class president Katie is assaulted and killed at the church, a recording of her racist podcast playing in the background.

there's someone inside your house 2021

Transfer student Makani Young (Park, who is great) and her new friends muse on who could be doing it. They casually suspect class misfit Ollie but break the town curfew for a secret party at rich kid Zach’s house, where everyone is coming clean about their pasts to remove themselves from the killer’s hitlist, not a far cry from the Pop Your Cherry party of Cherry Falls. We know from her slowly revealing flashbacks that Makani has something she’s hiding from people, but tonight the killer sets his sights on another friend with a dependency issue.

Makani is attacked next, her secret revealed to everyone by text, but it seems pretty much forgotten by the time the townsfolk hop on down to a corn maze where the killer tries to burn everyone alive. It’s down to the group of friends to rescue their classmates and confront the killer.

there's someone inside your house 2021

Unlike the book, where the killer was revealed uncharacteristically early for one of these tales, they remain a mystery element until the final scenes. The character is different and their motive muddled and confusing, rather than the unsettling rationale of the loon in the book, who just didn’t want other people to have the opportunity to leave the town if he couldn’t get out either.

This change results in the victims going from innocent achievers to the too often featured asshole types the audience won’t care about at all. They’d committed no wrong in the book, which further elevated Makani’s criminal past as worthy of attention. Here, it’s almost taken for granted, whereas the original idea set to imprison the disillusioned teen contingent in lives that go nowhere.

there's someone inside your house 2021

Additionally, the best part of the book – and very meaning of the title! – was the way the killer toyed with the victims’ habitations, which is only recreated during the first murder and Makani’s first encounter with the killer here.

Still, the characterisations of the leads are nicely done, the killer’s identity not too simple to solve, and the early murder set pieces are gruesome and charged with energy.

Blurb-of-interest: William MacDonald was in Hollow Man II.

Ssshhh… you’ll wake the undead

jason rising 2021

JASON RISING

3 Stars  2021/58m

“Revenge never dies.”

Director/Writer: James Sweet / Writers: Vincente DiSanti, Maurice Cardwell / Cast: Kyle Vahan, Anna Campbell, Jerry Bell Jr., Jason Reynolds, Adrienne King, Lisa Sorenson, Jennie Vaughn, Elizabeth Garrett, Dan Kyle, Alyxandra McCormack, Amy Steel (voice).

Body Count: 10


We should all be in awe of the fans keeping Jason in our hearts and on our screens while the court case surrounding the rights to the name or whatever it is grinds on and on. Spoilers ensue.

After Never Hike Alone in the Snow and Vengeance, 2021 served up Jason Rising, a quirky follow-on from, I think, The Final Chapter, co-produced by the team behind the Never Hike films.

Jason is taken away by the Wessex County Sheriff and two deputies to be buried in the woods not far from Camp Crystal Lake. In the present, the Sheriff’s son, now in that role, is called upon to help a pair of Marshalls hunt down a trio of female convicts who killed and cut off the dick of a guard at a labour farm. The women run into the off-limits section of the forest to hide out at the abandoned camp.

jason rises 2021

Nearby, Pamela Voorhees’ headless corpse reanimates itself and totters through the woods to resurrect Jason and set him about killing the intruders, as well as doing away with some herself before locating her own head. It’s worth praising the choice of actress to play a young Pam in flashbacks – she looks just as I’d envisage a young Betsy P.

Jason merrily does away with the convicts and the Marshalls before hunting down the Sheriff and his lackadaisical deputy, Eve, who sends out a call for help when Jason has her cornered – and it’s overheard by the most unexpected of individuals…

The surviving pair make it back to the correctional farm and are attacked by the re-complete Pamela just as ALICE sweeps in and takes her head off again! Alice!!?

jason rises 2021

A coda reveals that she evidently survived the ice-pick through her head and was put into witness protection (although the file is just in a box with ‘confidential’ written on it). She then receives a call from her therapist – Dr Ginny Field! – and the cops deposit Jason’s body back into Crystal Lake.

The love for the series classics is evident, although I was confused early on as to when this was set, as two of the cops who bury Jason in 1984 look exactly like the duo in the present, and if it slots in with the Never Hike films in any way. Alice’s survival is a stretch given we saw her skeleton at the end of Part 2, but is at least explained in quasi-just-go-with-it-believable way.

jason rises 2021 young pamela voorhees

Some comedic asides circumvent the tension here and there, as different production teams opt for different perspectives of which Jason they’re going for. Here, it’s a little bit wacky as he pulls out the entire spine and skull of one poor schmuck – but these varying interpretations of the lore are all welcome while Hollywood continues to let the series rot.

Blurbs-of-interest: Vincente DiSanti played Jason in the Never Hike films; Anna Campbell appeared in Never Hike in the Snow but as a different character.

“Are those… PUSSY willows?”

serial mom 1994

SERIAL MOM

4.5 Stars  1994/18/90m

“Every woman wants to be wanted …just not for Murder One.”

Director/Writer: John Waters / Cast: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, Scott Morgan, Walt MacPherson, Justin Whalin, Patricia Dunnock, Mink Stole, Mary Jo Catlett.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “You’re bigger than Freddy and Jason now – only you’re a real person!”


Unequalled satirist John Waters skewered America’s unhealthy obsession with serial killers in this razor-witted cult classic, which functions as a slasher movie when you zoom out a bit and take stock of the elements. Spoilers follow.

Kathleen Turner is just perfect as Beverly Sutphin, all-American mom and model citizen of suburban Baltimore. But when the behaviour of others conflicts with her orthodox view of the world, she tends to get a little …stabby. First to go is son Chip’s math teacher, who criticises his obsession with horror movies and suggests it may be indicative of family problems. Beverly mows him down with her car.

serial mom 1994

This coincides with a police investigation into obscene calls (and mail) made to neighbour (and so-called friend) Dottie Hinkle, all because she took a parking space from her one time. These phone calls may well be the most hilarious scene in the film, as is the moment when Beverly decides to out herself as the caller.

While somehow managing to prop up the outward illusion of being the perfect mom, Beverly offs daughter Misty’s sort-of boyfriend, a suburban couple she takes a dislike to, a rude customer of Chip’s video store, and her son’s best friend who witnesses one of her murders and is, himself, done away with during an L7 concert – the audience cheering as he burns to death and the lead singer spits vodka on his corpse.

serial mom 1994 kathleen turner

As any serial killer documentary should, things end with a grandiose trial, where Beverly continues to manage to thwart the attempts of the prosecution repeatedly, winning everybody over. Waters continues to crank the satire, with nods to serial murderer groupies, the family selling out to the merchandise racket (Misty sells t-shirts and badges showing her mom’s face during the court recesses – “could you sign it to a future serial mom?”), and the whole circus of the courtroom, including the arrival of Suzanne Somers, who is slated to play Beverly in the movie.

When you account for Beverly’s means of execution, it tallies with the general slasher movie consensus of no two people dying the same way: Murder by fire poker, scissors, air-con unit, and leg of lamb! The victims adhere to a sort of forgotten anonymity in a further glance to the culture of western media’s apparent preference to glorify the killer rather than those they killed.

serial mom matthew lillard ricki lake sam waterston

These things aside, Serial Mom still functions best as an uproarious comedy, so black and wicked at times that it feels dirty. The courtroom swear-off between Dottie and Beverly is the stuff of legend, and in addition there are endless barbed lines, gross-out humour (Chicks-with-Dicks won’t go unforgotten), and frankly ridiculous coincidences that only lend themselves positively to the whole product.

Enough cannot be said to highlight just how good Kathleen Turner is in the role, expertly pivoting the vail between sanity and seeing red; she’s able to change in a snap from affable friendly mom to frightening psychopath.

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I’ve been against classifying Serial Mom as a slasher movie for a while, but it can be denied no more that it certainly utilises more than a fair share of the template to get where it’s going.

Blurbs-of-interest: Matthew Lillard went on to star in Scream; Justin Whalin was the lead in Child’s Play 3; John Waters played the paparazzi in Seed of Chucky.

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